Deb Carlson

Title: Director of brokerage services for Cushman & Wakefield/NorthMarq

Deb Carlson, 60, has 30 years of experience in the retail real estate industry. She was the first female real estate director and then regional real estate vice president for Eden Prairie-based grocery store chain Supervalu. There, she was instrumental in bringing 20 new Cub Foods stores to the Twin Cities market.

The Cloquet, Minn., native also worked for grocery store chain Nash Finch (now SpartanNash) as a corporate officer and vice president of store development overseeing a 16 million-square-foot portfolio of properties. Carlson shifted to retail brokerage in 2003 and is director of brokerage services for Bloomington-based Cushman & Wakefield/NorthMarq. She has handled transactions on behalf of Toys 'R' Us, Ace Hardware, the North Face, Room & Board, Lakewinds Natural Foods and Kowalski's Markets. Now Carlson has been named president of the Minnesota Shopping Center Association (MSCA), a trade group representing retail developers, brokers, shopping center owners, retailers and vendors.

Q: You've worked with grocery retailers for years. How competitive is the grocery business today?

– Target and Wal-Mart, Aldi and even Menards has food. There's no question that it's harder and harder for the traditional grocery stores to grow and survive.

Q: What are some recent deals that you've completed?

A: One of my clients is Lakewinds Natural Foods. They're a co-op grocer in Minnetonka and Chanhassen. Just this summer we bought a piece of land in Richfield — the old Lyndale Garden Center. Their third store is under construction there and we're actively looking for more sites. I do a lot of Ace Hardware deals and have a couple of leases about ready to be signed, and I'm working on quite a few other locations. And we just got the North Face store done in the Galleria [in Edina] and that opened very well.

Q: What are your thoughts as you lead MSCA in 2014?

A: You have to ask what are the parts of MSCA that you really want to keep that work so well, like the networking opportunities, the strong programs and the really robust newsletter that keeps everybody up on what's going on in the retail world in Minnesota. And what parts of that do we maybe need to look at and change and improve to try to stay relevant for as many members as we can. The key to MSCA is to keep it relevant.

Liz Wolf is an Eagan-based freelance writer. She can be reached at